Conceição Paganele – Human rights defender

Conceição Paganele, President and founder of Associação de Mães e Amigos de Crianças e Adolescentes em Risco (AMAR), The Association of Mothers and Friends of Children and Adolescents at risk & is key critic of Sao Paulo’s juvenile detention system, known as FEBEM (Fundação Estadual do Bem-Estar do Menor). Her work has been vital in exposing the grave human rights abuses that have long dogged the centres.

She is being investigated by the Civil Police for a series of crimes including criminal damage, inciting riots inside the detention centres, conspiracy, formation of a criminal gang and aiding and abetting escape from a juvenile detention centre. In total Conceição Paganele is subject to three separate police investigations linking her work to recent riots within the FEBEM.

Conceição Paganele regularly visits FEBEM units, and has been a vocal critic of the system, which has been condemned both in Brazil and internationally for ill-treatment, torture and inhumane conditions. No clear evidence has been produced to back up the accusations levelled against her. Nor have any reasons been provided as to why Conceição Paganele has been singled out, when she has always visited FEBEM units accompanied by representatives of other NGOs. Amnesty International believes these charges are politically motivated, intended to undermine her work as a human rights defender.

In October 2005 the then Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, publicly criticised Conceição Paganele and her organisation for “always acting against the government” and “creating problems”.

Since she reported on torture in the Vila Maria FEBEM complex in January 2005, Conceição Paganele has been receiving anonymous death threats, and her family have been threatened.


Letter (in Spanish) by Gail Davidson sent on May 15, 2006